Remember back when we used to call first-person shooter games DOOM clones? Yeah, I think we should probably stick with that terminology these days. Let’s take every game with similar traits and call them something like…like…wait, that’s it! “Like!” We’ll call games “something” likes! If you die a lot and have to restart, it’s a roguelike! If you die a lot but don’t have to restart, it’s a Soulslike! It’s brilliant! While I go patent that idea, let’s take a look at Quake on the Switch, one of the original DOOM clones that’s now made its way to the hybrid console.
Quake does have a plot, but it’s minimal to say the least. Instead, let’s talk about the story of Quake as a game. Simply put: Id Software made DOOM. DOOM did really well, so Id needed a follow-up. Very long story short, they eventually dropped Quake, which was in large part DOOM in full 3D. That led to an entire new franchise of games that eventually grew to focus on multiplayer arena combat, but Quake steadily came to diminish in prominence compared to DOOM, with the most recent entry Quake Champions proving to lack the hard-hitting nature of DOOM 2016 and DOOM Eternal. The game we’ve got here is the original Quake with numerous expansions coming along for the ride.
Quake generally distinguishes itself from DOOM by being a slower, more deadly experience…but only just. Back in the day, the fancy 3D monster models were a more computationally intense proposition than they are today. That means that rather than swarming you with hordes and hordes of baddies (which might cause the computers of the day to explode), Quake tends to focus on smaller, beefier, more dangerous clumps of foes. Target prioritization is the order of the day as you dodge about and try to excise more dangerous baddies.
How are you going to do that excising, though? Quake’s weapons are a little more straightforward than, say, the odd ray-scanning mechanics of DOOM’s BFG-9000. You’ve got your shotguns, a regular and double-barreled variety, that serve as both a basic option and a risk-reward proposition that encourage you to close in with foes, for instance. The nailguns, meanwhile, are ammo-gobbling machine guns that won’t last long on your limited nail supply but serve to help bring down particularly dangerous targets.
Quake also has one of the first appearances of a physics-enabled grenade launcher, allowing you to bank shots around walls and corners to take out targets more safely, as well as a more standard rocket launcher. Finally, the lightning gun is an extremely powerful linear beam that’s also great at killing you if you fire it in the water.
You and your only friends, a whole bunch of guns, are going to slaughter your way through plenty of Quake goodness. There’s no fewer than five games’ worth of old-school shooter action here. You’ve got your original game followed by the expansion packs Scourge of Armagon and Dissolution of Eternity, with the more recent expansions Dimension of the Past and the new-for-this-release Dimension of the Machine on top of that.
Naturally, there’s both cooperative and competitive multiplayer modes on top of that in case you do have more friends than your guns. There’s even bot support to shore up your numbers! Really, all you’re missing here is mods and downloadable level packs, but if classic Quake is what you’re after, this release is going to serve just fine.
If we’re talking about performance, well…I can say with confidence that the Switch can run Quake. It doesn’t even need cloud support! The Switch just runs this game natively! I’m not sure this should feel like as much of an achievement as it does, but it’s still great to play Quake in both handheld and docked modes with no performance issues whatsoever; even from a control perspective, there’s some non-aggressive gyro assistance that makes aiming feel great. Likewise, Quake’s industrial soundtrack is present, accounted for and as solid as ever.
Quake earned the reputation it has by being one of the premier FPS experiences of its day. As it turns out, this game still holds up. Crawling through spooky castles and dimensions packed with horror with a dwindling supply of ammo and just enough grit to keep you alive makes for some solid action. Fans of Doom and other classic FPS titles ought to check this one out immediately.